The Lazy Man’s Guide to More Efficient Research

 

 

I’ve recently been tinkering around with my research method. In the past, I’ve always dreaded doing research and always avoided it in any way I could. Seeing that research has become more and more an essential feature of my everyday work routine, I figured something had to be done to stop the research scourge.

Fortunately, I developed a research method that’s worked well for me — so well, in fact, that I’ve felt the need to share it to see if it works for you. It goes something like this:

Develop a list of keywords

The first thing you’ll want to do is develop a list of search terms that relate to what it is your researching. For example, if I wanted to write an article on good research methods to use, my keyword list would look something like: “research methods”, “best research methods”, “proven research methods”, “note-taking skills”, and “how to research”. There will be some overlap between these terms, but the goal is to create a large number of keywords that are diverse enough to get you all the relevant info you might need.

 

Find a list of sources using the keywords you’ve developed

Once you have your search terms, you’ll want to go about collecting sources from each of them. You’ll still need to vet for relevancy and legitimacy; however, this step will be greatly simplified by the fact that you’ll have a lot of sources to sift through thanks to your keywords. Rather than continuously having to look up something and check sources only to find that nothing fits, you can get your keywords to give you 10x the amount of sources, and quickly sift through them to find the best ones.

 

Write notes for each of the sources

Now that you have a good amount of high-quality sources, you can do a new passthrough of actually reading the content. Keep in mind the info that you need, and this step won’t be near as time-consuming. When writing notes, remember to keep it connected to the source that you’re getting it from — this will allow the citation process to be much, much smoother.

Incorporate notes into writing

Finally, you’ll want to simplify your writing process by directly incorporating your notes. By this, I mean you’ll want to first outline your writing, and then place each individual note to the part of the outline it bests corresponds to. This not only provides a better structure for what you want to say, but also allows you to make quick and easy citations.

 
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Creatives vs. Technicals: Which Should You Focus On?

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

One of life’s greatest conflicts is between the arts and the sciences. The right brain and the left brain. The creatives and the technicals.

In reality, no one thinks that one of these groups is inherently useless. But what’s the right mix? Honestly, it changes depending on what sort of project you’re looking at. A SaaS company would need a larger proportion of technicals rather than creatives, where something like a film project might require more creatives than technicals, and a video game might be split roughly 50/50. I also believe that the greatest competitive advantage here are the people who are focused on training both sides of this dichotomy. If you’re well trained as both a creative and a technical, you can do wide swaths of the work yourself; this not only helps with expenses on projects but can also help in terms of career options.

Everyone is naturally aligned with one of these two. I found from a young age that the creative element aligned with me greatly, but that I had trouble fulling realizing projects due to that missing half. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried honing my technical side by focusing more on programming and engineering projects, in hopes of equalizing both these sides. I’ve found that doing this has helped me greatly, and I’d recommend it to most other people. There’s certainly more technical guides and tutorials out there on the internet – probably because technical knowledge is less ethereal than creative knowledge – but there are still resources out there for things like art, writing, and design.

Overall, the question should not be about being a creative or a technical, but rather a creative and a technical. Some might argue that more focus is better; I’m not saying that you can’t be more focused in one area than another, but I do believe that having at least basic knowledge contained in both fields will do wonders for you long-term.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.

How to Avoid Writer’s Fatigue

You can probably tell what the inspiration for this blog post was.

 

After starting up the weekly blog again, I had begun anew with nothing. All of my extra Monday Chat topics from a year ago had been lost to time, and so instead of being able to choose from a few dozen topics, I could only choose from three. And although the three were fairly good, none of them were good for this week. Or at least, that’s what I convinced myself in my head.

Certainly, I had fallen into some sort writer’s fatigue over the long weekend. I’ve experienced this fatigue before; it has been what has caused me to stop the weekly blog every other time it had ended. One day you wake up and think “You know, I really just don’t want to do this”. Yes, writing is supposed to be fun, but at some point it becomes routine. And then it’s less fun.

I’ve fallen into this trap with the podcast before as well. A podcast (especially my type of podcast) should be incredibly simple; set up a good mic and talk for an hour. But sometimes there’s a prevailing boredom that comes over the idea of talking about something; after all, what is there to talk about?

So, falling into this trap many times before, I’ve decided to make a guide as to the steps I’ve taken to halt this process as much as possible:

 

Go on a walk

Get out of the house and go walk. Go walk to somewhere you haven’t been. If you live in the suburbs, check out the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’re in an urban setting, see what the city has to offer. Bring a small journal with you and as little  What’s important is that you free your mind of the current situation and try to think of new ideas or things to write about outside of a familiar setting.

Another important step in this process is to not bring headphones. You walk places with headphones to tune out the surroundings; in this case, you’re trying to tune into them. Absorbing new environments springs forth new ideas. Along this vein, bring your phone only if necessary and if you do, only use it to check the time (that includes not reading/ignoring new notifications). Now that we’re in a good setting, it’s time to start thinking of ideas.

 

Getting the ideas

The best piece of brainstorming advice I’ve ever gotten is this: brainstorming should be a form of creative vomit. Throw out all the ideas you have before you have a chance to judge them; each idea that you have, even if its garbage, can end up springing forth better ideas. This step is key to our process; as you’re walking, the moment an idea springs forth into your head, find a place to sit and quickly jot it all down. Don’t think about how good it is, or how much you can write on it; that comes later.

Only once you do get back can you look at the full list and decide what’s best. Put down the entire list of topics into a word doc and check each of them out. Take in mind the goal here is to keep as many topics as possible, thus to diversify the potential of what you can write on; of course, if you can’t write on something you can’t write on something, but try to keep an open mind. You can also alter old items to make it better, so keep open to this as well.

 

Some Sidenotes

This is a strategy that I’ve been using for the past year or so, and I’ve found it a great way to deter any sort of fatigue, not just writing. Whether it be studying, doing a project, cold-calling, etc. – this strategy still works, just replace blog topics with whatever you’re working on right now. I also want to use some time to explain the difference between writer’s block and writer’s fatigue. Certainly this method can help both, but I’ve found fatigue to be a greater detriment to my long-term progress than a block. Writer’s block is simply when you can’t think of anything to write; writer’s fatigue is when you simply do not want to write anymore. Try to keep these both in mind when you’re hitting roadblocks in the process.

 

As always, give this post a like/clap if you enjoyed it, and be sure to follow my Twitter for more updates. See you next week.